Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Overwhelming Reminiscences

Music, literature, photography, painting, illustrations - all of them evoke something, whether it be a minor expression of emotion, positive or negative, or a maelstrom of unexpressed feelings which have been restrained for years long past. Some people seem sensitive to media and their evocative qualities while others are incredibly indifferent. I guess I'm a person of the former.

In response to my wife's insistence I began reading Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being A Wallflower. At about the same time I started into the novel I found myself spending long periods listening to Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Mazzy Star, and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Literature and music, two different types of media, suddenly combined to a potent effect.

Suddenly I found myself swept up in the synergy of the feelings and thoughts of Chbosky's Charlie and the melodies and lyrics of the above listed bands. Even now I  don't think I can adequately describe the intensity, pain, or beauty of the euphoria and melancholy which surround me as snippets from the book and various songs haunt my mind. It's an emotional space like no other, and at it's core it's so frightening that I feel that it might forever change how I live. Heavy, is a fair adjective to describe the current state of my world as I type this.

I've been flashing back to the past as a result of these feelings. My memories, while in this state, both recall the soft, sweet pleasures of my best high school relationships as well as the course, embarrassing tragedies of my failures in love and friendship. I see the faces of the people I let down through my youthful ignorance. Powerful images of one girl in particular flash through my mind. A girl for whom I felt something close to love. A girl I once tremendously disappointed.

This one person was someone I had known for many years, since elementary school, and grew especially close to in high school. I failed to react well in a moment when the emotional environment between us was most conducive to a potential for love and deep bonding. I failed to correctly handle a dance/date and, in doing so, forever ruined her opinion of me.

Now, with these songs and words flowing through my mind, I keep seeing her as she was but as sad as she might have been because of me. I imagine her as she was on the night of my failure - in that dark blue casual dress with an altered t-shirt, cut down the front middle, pulled over it - looking at me with sad eyes as the chorus of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" echoes around. Nothing is as tearing as seeing a past love in the perfect preservation of fond memory surrounded by the sweetest most moving music. It powerfully wrenches the heart. 

So, I write about all of this because it is a necessary method of egress for these feelings, and I need to keep from letting all of this completely overwhelm me. I can't afford to let my present happiness be inundated by monstrous waves of regret. I've got to keep on in the now, the pleasant, joyous present. The past is the past and it will be mourned as such. That's all I or anyone can do. Just let regrets remain with yesterday, buried by impenetrable layers of time.

Time to turn off the music and put the book down for a little while.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Passion Finds A Way

What happens when we lie on our passions? I think I've acquired some experience to help in answering this question. You see, I am a writer. Except, writers write. Don't they?

It's been almost a year since I made an arrangement with my wife, who was trusting and supportive enough to believe that I could fulfill my promise to make a more than respectable attempt to achieve regular publication of some sort. I was to write every day like it was a job, instead of a clock-punching Sisyphean position with some bland company. All that would be required of me would be to sit in front of my computer every day and write for as long as it took, until something was ready for submission somewhere.

For a short while I lived up to expectations. I wrote a short story, edited it, and sent it out to one publication for which I believed it to be suited. I was wrong. I didn't try so much after that.

It wasn't necessarily the rejection which crippled my drive. It was self-doubt upon self-doubt which weighed me down until I crashed. The rejection was merely a slight breeze to the severely unsteady tower of my creative confidence. While down my traumatized writer's spirit transformed into apathy. I was immersed in a smothering hopelessness.

Regardless of how little faith I held for my own abilities and how little I cared about my seemingly illusory potential, I still had some passion for writing. Somehow I managed to find my way here, to the blog, every now and then. The occasional beats of my weak writer's heart are evident in the archive of the posts from the last several months, here on Random-Verbosity. A few blips on the EKG.

Some fraction of a drive must mean there's still some hope. Even now. I still can't quite see past my doubt and the apathy produced by it, but I write on because I can, I have to, and, more importantly, I desperately want to. Something drives me in spite of myself.

What happens when we lie on our passions? I think, if they're strong enough initially, energy still escapes. Something finds a way past obstruction and the light of hope remains lit. I'm trying to follow it now. One keystroke after another. Another word to follow the last. I'm slowly finding my writing legs again.

Time to focus on sufficiently honoring a nearly year old promise, not minding if the result is success or failure. Time for true, fervent effort.

From now on this writer writes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness - The Best Yet?

I don't want to go into too much detail so that I don't ruin the film for those who have yet to see it, but I decided that I had to write something about my reaction to Star Trek Into Darkness. To put it plainly, I was completely blown away by every aspect of this film. The characters, the multi-layered plot, the use of so many familiar references to the beloved Star Trek universe, and the fantastic employment of 3D all made for one hell of a damn fine movie.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban along with the writers under director J.J. "Movie Master" Abrams have brought back the feel of the good old "Trinity." Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were sensational in this film playing off each other perfectly and bringing together their varied perspectives and personalities to an astounding effect. This was one of the most fabulous aspects of Into Darkness which served to truly make the movie work for me.

The plot, which I won't spoil because I appreciate it so much that I couldn't bring myself to do that to someone who has yet to see it (and see it they should!), was one of the best, if not the best, in a Star Trek film, in my opinion. I refer to it as a "Multi-layered" plot and it really is. Don't be deceived by trailers and don't go in expecting anything. Just sit back and take it in. It'll overwhelm you in an incredible way. Also, why not just appreciate a film for what it is instead of trying to break it down, define its every attribute, and "Master" it like it's a god damned challenge? It's entertainment, so let it be entertaining.

Trek fans and moviegoers alike should find this a pleasing feature. It literally has everything one could want in an engaging science-fiction, action film as well as enough Trek Universe material to sate those, like me, who are desperate for the next evolutionary step for our beloved franchise. See it, support it, and let's hope the future of Trek continues to ascend as these Bad Robot films have, thus far, in their quality and spectacle.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Of Excess and Dreams - The Great Gatsby

Like a fine cut diamond traced in golden art deco patterns surrounding a passionate beating heart, the entirety of it the centerpiece of a hedonist's carnival, such was the tale and the 2013 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrman's film delivered the beautiful, tragic dreamer of Jay Gatsby in the midst of a sea of drunken, unceasing revelry which truly roared just as powerfully as the happenings of the tale's setting in time, the aptly titled Roaring 20s. It featured commanding portrayals of classic characters with an eye-popping design scheme which terrifically represented the gluttony for finery demonstrated by the peoples who consistently wined, dined, and shamelessly played at playing all throughout that glitzy decade of yore.

 My wife and I woke early this morning to make our way to a small, five-screen theater just outside of town for a 3D showing of Gatsby. She had been anxiously awaiting the film's release since we first glimpsed the trailer in theaters last year. The both of us possess a familiarity with the novel, though we'd only each read it once many years prior. Regardless of our current distance from the work, we both share an appreciation for Fitzgerald, my wife being an avid fan of the expatriate circle which included Scott, his wife Zelda, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and others.

From the icy, shadowy flashback at the beginning throughout Nick Carraway's (the narrator of the tale) recollection of the events surrounding his introduction to and the fall of Jay Gatsby, this movie radiated Fitzgerald and its period. Luhrman and his associates clearly did their research and rendered an idealized version of an era known for its splendor, its copious wealth, and its tremendous waste. Their script was as true to the novel as I can estimate, myself still trying to recollect my reading from the latter days of high school.

The film score was controversial for some, admittedly myself to some degree, but the incorporation of the modern music seemed inconsequential, seeming like so many gnats circling around a picturesque fruit arrangement. My wife believed it to serve to depict the cacophony of the booming city and the frantic, kinetic jumble of the party scenes. Though I had my doubts, I was overjoyed when Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" was used to highlight the unveiling of the titular character himself as he stood beneath the firework-punctuated climax of his glamorous soirée. It was also welcome, though expected, when classic tunes from the period wound their way through the scenes.

Leonardo DiCaprio performed masterfully as Jay Gatsby, emboldening the character's qualities as the wildly dreaming, hopeful idealist. He led a cast of splendid actors and actresses who all assembled to provide a considerable pulse to the tragedy. Tobey Maguire's Nick Carraway, a portrayal which many critics seem to have been all too eager to assault, wonderfully led the viewer through the story while playing a character who was both new to the wild life of the city and yet broken by the horrible people who tailored the terrible events which filled its many apartments and lined its streets. Carey Mulligan delivered an emotional yet distant woman of the period who both loved and failed the concept of true love as only a shallow person might. Tom Buchanan was acted by Joel Edgerton whose booming personality, haughty, selfish lifestyle, and early-Twentieth-Century-wealthy-white man-ignorance opposed the desperate, hopeful romanticism of DiCaprio's Gatsby. These protagonists, antagonists, and their accessories were supported by a fantastic group of character types which defined and set apart the worst and best aspects of this tragedy's cast.

It was a film worth watching for those who appreciate the entirety and soul of Fitzgerald's novel and message, those who enjoy the period of the 1920s, and for those who respect the ability of the medium of film to combine design, story, acting, and music into a sensory-stunning marvel, especially in the case of this classic silver screen sad story.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Yet Another Fat Man Makes An Attempt At #dinidream

Here's a little something inspired by Paul Dini and Kevin Smith. From episode eighteen of "Fatman on Batman."

Written in something close to script format, it's obviously shorter than an actual issue, but it's more of a beginning or a snippet than a whole story. Hopefully it makes sense and fits with the original concept.

Enjoy, readers and Bat-fans. If either Mr. Kevin Smith or Mr. Paul Dini ever get a chance to read this, then I hope that they'll know that it was written by a fellow fan who loves the Bat as much as them.



Panel 1: A trisection with each portion depicting one of three figures. The first is a shadowy man standing shirtless atop a cliff in the shadows of what is obviously the interior of a cave. The second is a portly, balding man in a towel lathering his face in front of a mirror in a tiny bathroom. The third shows a pair of wide bloodshot eyes lit by a slit of daylight which trespasses through window blinds.

     Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- Every day the routine recycles. He reaches deep within and finds the drive to continue his mission.

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- Every morning he's up before the alarm. His dedication to work and his routines adds a comforting monotony to life. 

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- Every morning I try to do something special for sweetums. No matter what, he lets me know that he's noticed. This morning it was a door in the face.

Panel 2: A trisection with each portion depicting one of three figures. The first is a fastidiously dressed man stealthily peering around a corner of a natural rock wall.  The second is a housewife draped in a bathrobe, visible through an open doorway, her hair in curlers, pouring coffee into a mug. The third is a young woman in a tattered jester's outfit slumped against a wall, holding her swollen face in her hands.

     Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- I long for the day when he will fail to dredge up that drive.

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- If only he was as dedicated to me.

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- And if I don't find those joybuzzers he'll probably do worse. 

Panel 3: Trisection again. The first depicts the shirtless man opening a vault in which there stands the silhouette of a bat-like figure. The fastidiously dressed man stands by his side. The second depicts the portly man adjusting a tie as the housewife waits behind him, holding out a pair of pants. The third depicts a pale man with a monstrous grin peeking through the opening of a door, looking down on the young woman who beams up at him, though tears stream down her powdered cheeks.

     Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- This is not that day.

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- This is good enough, though. Really it is. I love him and I don't know what I'd do without him.

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- Aw. Puddin's got that look in his eye. That look he gets after a good cry. For me, maybe? Nah. But now I might have a chance to find them buzzers after all.


Panel 1: Trisection. The first displays gloved hands pulling a cape to above a large bat symbol on a chest. The second displays hands working a foot into a dress shoe, a pair of slippered feet stand in the background. The third depicts stained, gloved hands rummaging through a chest of drawers, pulling out playing cards, rubber ducks, rubber noses, and various other novelty items.

     Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- I promised him my ongoing support, and though he drives on in his dangerous crusade I must maintain my place at his side.

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- I'll just be the good wife, waiting and serving. He appreciates it. I know he must.

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- Uh-oh. Here it comes. 

Panel 2: Trisection. First portion displays fastidious man holding out a lined tray with various gadgets (such as pellets, bat-shaped shiruken, and a grappling gun) for the other man, dressed in an atramentous cape and cowl, who picks various items from the tray. Second portion displays the portly man as he places his wallet in his back pocket while taking his hat from the robed woman whom he meekly kisses on the cheek. The third displays the stained gloved hands as they adjust a colorful boutonniere.

     Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- How long shall I stand at the ready, though? How long shall I bear witness to the weathering of my charge? When and how might I truly defend him from the greatest dangers?

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- If he doesn't, after all this time...well, I don't know what I'd do.

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- He just wanted his flower. Ha! So it's going to be that kind of day. And here I was, kinda scared for a moment.

Panel 3: Trisection. First portion shows caped man leaping into a nearby vehicle as the fastidious man looks on. The second shows the woman in the bathrobe watching the portly man through a window as he enters his car. The third shows the grinning man's back as he exits through a door, flinging, over his shoulder, a Joker card covered in scribbled script, which is for a moment visible to the reader. It reads "Sorry. With love. -J"

     Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- I must first face an important truth which cruel twists of fate and the passing of years have crafted for us. Then, perhaps I'll be able to say what must be said. For I am his support. His only security. His surrogate father.

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- Thinking about the worst is easy. Especially when love is just the occasional peck on the cheek. But that's just his way. I can't doubt him because I expect too much.

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- What's a door in the face when he goes and does something like that, huh? Sometimes I think he's had it with me. He gets that look and says those horrible things. This is the real him, though. I know it.


Full Page: The grinning man's grotesque smile takes up the center of the page as he leans over, his hands clutching at the lapel of the portly man from the previous page, both are clearly on a rooftop. The man's face hangs backwards, upside down, a mask of despair with streaks of sweat running down. In the background, gliding down menacingly from atop a water tower, is the shape of a bat.

     Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- It is that fact which holds me here as he goes forth. Gliding through the darkness, passionately executing his chief duty, he battles on so that in some far future time the night might lose its bite.

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- He's out there working to take care of us. He must deal with such stress so that we're secure. Thinking about that makes me sorry that I doubted him even for a second.

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- He's not crazy!


Full Page: Trisection. First section: Fastidious man stands by a window, a bat symbol is projected onto a cloud bank beyond. Second section: The portly man fiercely embraces his wife. His face is one of fear and hers is one of relief. Two GCPD officers stand in the door behind them. Third Section: Blonde woman with running makeup stands in the rain before a wrought-iron gate with a sign over the entry which reads "Arkham Asylum." She's bundled in a trench coat. A chainsaw blade dangles slightly below the bottom of the coat.

      Narrator 1 (portion 1-grey text box)- In that moment, as soon as it may come, I will still be here. I will still be a loving father for a tragic son.

     Narrator 2 (portion 2-blue text box)- I know he loves me.

     Narrator 3 (portion 3-red text box)- And that's why I love him. That's why we play these games, over and over again. Because we both know.
         Harley Quinn: Time to go home, Mistah J. 

Like a Small Child Full of Sugar, or Me During Free Comic Book Day 2013

Every year for the last several I've spent this day, the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day, running about the greater Grand Rapids area and some of Muskegon, MI buying up comics, grabbing free comics, chatting with folks in all types of costumes, and enjoying the heck out of being a comic book geek. It feels like a day when everyone else notices my hobby and nods a "Right on!" in my direction. It's like a full moon to a werewolf or a low tide for sea phantoms or maybe something perfect-like for things a little less creepy. Basically, it's the perfect day for GEEKING OUT!

This year I was unable to accept an opportunity to present my comic work and do sketches at Lange's Sports Connection in Muskegon, MI due to my wife's recent trip to the hospital and her ongoing need for care. So instead I wandered about town, staying as close to home as possible (except just once), so that I could find me some free comics and support my favorite local stores. I greatly miss visiting Lange's, never mind that it would have been cool to get the exposure and meet folks who might want to read my work (to Todd Lange, the owner, I am extremely grateful for the invitation), but at least I was able to take part in the funsplosion that is FCBD in some way.

After visiting local Grand Rapids, MI shops like Apparitions Comics, Argos Books, Tardy's Collector's Corner, and going a little ways away from town to Lowell, MI for Rookies Comics, I was able to find all the books I wanted and a few extra to try on for size. David Petersen's Mouse Guard was one of my priority books along with the 2000AD offering, but it seems that us 2000AD fans are unlucky in the town of GR because unfortunately no one ordered the title (BOO!). The rest of the books, especially the Kaboom issue (ADVENTURE TIME!!!), were terrific, though. Honestly, my feeling is that this year and last were the best FCBDs so far, and hopefully this day and the publishers involved will just keep getting bigger and bigger and adding more and more quality material for all the goodly four-color fans around the globe.

Here's to a future where Free Comic Book Day is a more widely recognized and strictly honored worldwide holiday (I'm talking calendar recognition). Free comics for all and to all good times!

For more information on Free Comic Book Day, please visit this link:

Also, May the 4th Be With You, to all of my fellow Star Wars fans. Now I'm off to watch Empire Strikes Back and plan my WEG Star Wars RPG adventure.